Do you possess these 7 traits of those who lead by example?

With many years of experience working with employees in various work environments, I've found that there are always a handful of employees that stand out when compared to the rest. These employees often possess a similar leadership skills list across organizations. From observation, below is a summary of the traits that often belong to these highly successful employees.

1. They hold good boundaries

Believe it or not, highly success employees don't become highly successful by saying "yes" to everything. Highly successful employees know how to hold good boundaries with others, don't allow themselves to be walked over or taken advantage of, and know how to say "no" to tasks or projects when they already have a lot on their plate. With that said, they also find a way to say "no" without really saying "no." For example, they might negotiate a new deadline, re-prioritize tasks with a manager, or pull in another team member to help. By holding good boundaries, they're able to do their current jobs efficiently and very well.

2. They understand the importance of clear communication

Highly successful employees realize the importance of clear communication--in email, voicemail, person-to-person, and so on. They also understand that we all have different communications styles. If you can understand someone else's communication style, then you can lead by example and better communicate with them on their terms to collaborate for optimal success.

3. They are not afraid to ask questions and speak up

To learn and grow, you must be OK with asking questions. There was a time in my career when I was so afraid to ask questions because I was afraid of sounding dumb or being told "no." I got over it when I realized it was hindering my ability to succeed and do my job the way I wanted to do it. There are no stupid questions (unless you keep asking the same question over and over because you weren't listening the first time you received an answer). Successful employees aren't afraid to speak up and share ideas. They also know how to temper their excitement in such a way that it's not about putting down current processes or ideas, but instead about finding a way to collaborate to be more efficient and improve the bottom line or current processes in place.

4. They enjoy what they do — it's more than a paycheck

People are attracted to those who have a spring in their step. Individuals who wake up every morning without the dread of going to work lead by example and are a step ahead of those who do. Job fit is essential for success, and the more you love your job, the more easily success will find you.

Success also follows those who believe there's more to work than earning money—they see their career as a way of being of service, and as such, strive for success to be of better service to their organization, community and others.

5. They take the high road

When people gossip and talk poorly about others, it often comes back to bite them in the you know what. When people try to make others look bad to their superiors, it typically only makes them look bad. With that said, the most successful people I see in the workforce are those who mind their own business and focus on their own projects and work to bring their best to the table. They understand that most of the time, those who matter know the truth about what goes on within their group. They also learn how to respectively handle difficult situations in the workplace.  

6. They are timely

Highly successful employees have time management on their leadership skills list. They know the importance of being on time, as well as completing projects and tasks on schedule. If they're going to be late or miss a deadline, then they communicate with those who need to know, and a new deadline or meeting time can be established.

7. They have respect for their supervisors, peers and the organization

Employees who show respect for their supervisors, peers and the organization for which they work tend to receive more respect, lead by example and as a result, build stronger relationships. Even if the relationships are strained, respect still stands, and difficult situations are handled in a respectful way.

It's worth it to mention that when an employee lacks respect for a supervisor or organization, it's likely a poor fit, which dampens the ability to be successful in the long run. If this defines you, consider making a career move to another organization. Or, if you like your current organization, but you're having difficulty making it work with your current supervisor, consider a move to a different department if it's an option.

These are just a few of the behaviors I have observed in highly effective employees over time. The good news is, they can be learned. If you find you'd like to up your game at work and lack any of these habits, consider trying one or two on over the next month, and let us know how it goes!

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